Whale Fall in Santa Cruz Basin
While exploring a relatively young submarine landslide in the Santa Cruz Basin off Southern California, the team aboard Nautilus discovered a natural whale fall. When a whale dies and sinks to the seafloor, the carcass of the cetacean introduces an extra food source into the ecosystem that can support communities of life for years after the whale has perished. Even though sights like these are often rare to come across in the deep sea, the Nautilus team explored a natural whale fall last year, and the well-documented Rosebud Whale Fall off the coast of San Diego.
The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) is one of the agencies tasked with the protection of deep-water habitats, commercially important species, and deep sea coral ecosystems around the islands, yet lacks a detailed understanding of the distribution, abundance, and condition of the resources within the Sanctuary. Less than 50% of the seafloor within the CINMS boundaries has been mapped by high-resolution sonar, and the 2016 Nautilus expedition to the same region worked to cut this knowledge gap nearly in half.